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The Metamorphoses

The Metamorphoses


by Ovid

The Metamorphoses Foolishness and Folly Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Book.Line). We used Allen Mandelbaum's translation, but these citations refer not to the lines in Mandelbaum's edition, but to the original Latin.

Quote #1

Then Phoebus set aside the dazzling rays
that wreathed his head; he had his son draw near
and said, embracing him: "I have no cause
to say you are not mine; Clymene's words
about your birth are true. To set you free
of any doubts, ask what you will of me:
whatever gift you want, you shall receive.
And may the pool of Styx on which gods swear,
the pool my eyes have never seen, now be
the witness of my promise." Just as soon
as Phoebus' words were done, young Phaethon asked
to have his father's chariot – for one day,
to guide its wingèd horses on their way. (2.40-48)

Here we see two kinds of folly. The first is when the Sun-god promises to give his son anything he asks for. The second is Phaethon's reckless request to drive the chariot of the Sun.

Quote #2

Such were the words of Juno. They persuade
the girl, who did not know what fate awaits
a mortal woman caught in the embrace
of Jove when all his powers are arrayed.
And so, when Jove comes down to her, the girl
asks him to grant one gift to her – although
she does not name that gift. And Jove replied:
"Whatever you may want, I'll not refuse.
And to assure you that my pledge is true,
I swear it by the sacred Styx, an oath
that calls upon a godhead so supreme
that all the deities must stand in fear
before the flow of that torrential stream." (3.287-291)

The situation here closely parallels that of Phaethon and his father the Sun-god. Here, as well, we have two acts of folly.

Quote #3

So many futile kisses did he waste
on the deceptive pool! How often had
he clasped the neck he saw but could not grasp
within the water, where his arms plunged deep!
He knows not what he sees, but what he sees
invites him. Even as the pool deceives
his eyes, it tempts them with delights. But why
o foolish boy, do you persist? Why try
to grip an image? He does not exist –
the one you love and long for. (3.427-433)

This one's kind of a no-brainer. In the sense that, if you fall in love with your own reflection in a pool of water, and keep looking at it until you die, you probably have no brain. This is Foolishness and Folly with two capital F's.

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